A desire for healthier diets and the stagnant economy have led consumers to cook at home more often, and they are increasingly seeking foods with added benefits, according to a new survey from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).
The FMI’s latest annual Shopping for Health survey was based on online responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,471 adults. The survey aims to assess shoppers’ attitudes to health and nutrition and how these attitudes drive their supermarket purchase decisions.
“More and more shoppers are making the switch to foods with benefits,” said Cary Silvers, FMI’s director of consumer insights for prevention. “They are steering away from empty calories and asking, ‘what’s in my food, and how is it good for me?’”
The survey found that the proportion of consumers who reported they were buying more foods with ‘plus’ claims, like added whole grains, fiber and protein, was up 32% compared to a year earlier. A third of consumers (33%) showed an interest in protein on the label, up ten percentage points since 2009; 55% of consumers said they had switched to whole grain bread; and 30% had switched to Greek yogurt, up 9 percentage points since 2009.
‘Minus’ claims also played a role in consumers’ efforts to eat more healthily, the survey found, with 32% of shoppers saying they were buying more low-sodium foods compared to 2011, and 67% saying that sodium was important to them. More than half (54%) of those surveyed said they were aware of food manufacturers’ efforts to cut sodium in their products.
Meanwhile, store brands – also known as private label – have cashed in on the slow economy. In previous economic downturns, many shoppers returned to their favorite brands when the financial climate improved, but improvements in the quality, packaging and promotion of store brand products has seen interest continue to rise, the survey found. Six in ten survey participants said they had switched to store brands, up from 54% of respondents last year.
The full survey is available at www.FMI.org .